Parents want students in local schools Edgewater residents want children removed from Annapolis district

April 08, 1997|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Residents of communities in northern Edgewater turned out in force last night to say they want to send their children to school with the youngsters in the rest of Edgewater and have their neighborhoods pulled out of Annapolis schools.

Testifying at a packed Anne Arundel County school board hearing on redistricting, parents said that from shopping to Little League, their families are attuned to Edgewater, where they feel Edgewater Elementary, Central Middle and South River Senior High schools should be their local schools.

The issue has become tinged with racial undertones.

Gingerville, Ginger Hill, Poplar Point and Wilelinor communities are overwhelmingly white neighborhoods districted into Mills-Parole Elementary School, where nine out of 10 children are black. Meanwhile, children from the nearly all-black Bywater community in Annapolis are bused to Edgewater Elementary and Rolling Knolls Elementary schools, both of which otherwise would have few minority students. The Bywater children would be brought closer to home for elementary school under the redistricting proposal.

And while the four largely white communities outside Annapolis mostly want to send their children to Edgewater schools, the one majority-black community, Dorsey Heights, wants to keep its children in nearby Mills-Parole elementary.

The county school board is aiming to return many children to neighborhood schools while not overwhelming some Annapolis schools with too many children who are poor or in need of special services. The board is expected to vote on the proposals April 16.

Edgewater parents said the issue is not one of race for them; rather, they said, it is a matter of their children attending school with children they play with, go Scouting with and are in the same sports leagues.

Some black residents testified that they believed many white parents were uncomfortable sending their children to a mostly black school. During the hour-and-a-half hearing, some blacks could be heard murmuring that the school board might as well divide Annapolis-area schools by race because that would closely reflect many housing patterns.

"You're not making a constitutional amendment. Changes can be made again," said Chris Swatta, speaking for the Severn Grove Road community.

How many children would be affected remains a large question because over the years more children from the four affected communities would be expected in public schools.

Of 125 children in 300 or so homes, 57 are in private elementaries, 21 in private middle and 28 in private high school. Eleven are home-schooled, eight attend public schools not in their area and only three attend the zoned elementary school, said Paul Becker of Gingerville, a parent.

Pub Date: 4/08/97

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